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Trump Legal News: Hit the Road, Jack

We think that is a tune that Donald Trump will soon be singing on a regular basis, assuming he isn't already, because Special Counsel Jack Smith is haunting his every waking moment. There was a little bit of ambiguous news, and then a lot of bad news, for the former president yesterday.

Let's start with the ambiguous news. Judge Aileen Cannon, who very clearly intends to keep the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case on her docket, announced yesterday that December is not enough time for everyone to prepare for a trial. That's good for Trump, obviously, since "drag this thing out" is his primary legal strategy.

On the other hand, Cannon cast aspersions on some of the claims Trump's lawyers made in their various filings, and also implied that she's going to push things a bit beyond December, but not a LOT beyond December. That's bad for Trump, since it could mean he goes on trial before (or while) people cast their primary ballots. Cannon said she plans to announce a start date very soon; that announcement should give us a pretty good sense as to the extent to which she's in the bag for Trump.

That concludes the "ambiguous news" section of this item, now we move on to the "bad news" section. The biggie is that Trump revealed yesterday that he's received another target letter from Smith, this one related to events during the 1/6 insurrection. As the former president himself pointed out, on his boutique social media platform, such a letter almost always presages an arrest and an indictment.

Trump could always be lying, of course, but for once, that does not appear to be the case. ABC News managed to find someone who has seen the letter, and verified that it exists. According to ABC's reporting, the text of the letter mentions three federal statutes: "conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States, deprivation of rights under color of law, and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant." Exactly what that means is... unknown to anyone outside of Smith's team.

In his post to Truth Social, Trump also noted that he's been given "a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury." This presumably means that if he wants to tell his version of events to the jurors, he can, but he has to do it this week. Then, whether he shows up or not, an indictment is likely to come soon after. In the Mar-a-Lago case, there was about 3 weeks between the target letter and the indictment being made public. The same timeline could hold here, but it's not impossible that a D.C. indictment comes as soon as next week. Either way, it would seem that those who guessed Smith would get to indictment #2 before Fulton County DA Fani Willis got to indictment #1 had the right of it.

We probably don't need to tell readers of this site that a Washington trial is a scarier prospect for Trump than a Florida trial. He's much less likely to get a friendly judge, and much, much less likely to get one or more rogue jurors. The saving grace for him, such as it is, is that the crimes he's likely to be charged with are going to be harder to prove than the ones related to the documents. That said, Smith is clearly a fellow who knows how to dot his i's and cross his t's. Further, recall that the feds don't go after anyone, much less a former president, unless they are confident in a guilty verdict. So, the potential silver linings in D.C. are not much to hang one's hat on.

Once Trump found out that the D.C. situation was moving toward an inflection point, his first move was to contact others in his circle to see if they had gotten target letters. None of them did, apparently, so for now at least, the cheese stands alone. Trump's second move was to get his office-holding flunkies, like Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Chair of the House Republican Conference Elise Stefanik (R-NY), on the phone to make clear that they damn well better be shouting from the highest mountaintops about how the former president is innocent and is being persecuted. Voters, outside of the Trumpublican faithful, do not respond well to politicians who downplay 1/6. So, McCarthy, Stefanik, et al., are in for a bumpy cycle as they try to keep Trump happy but also try to retain control of the House.

This is not the end of the bad news for Trump and his acolytes, either. Right around the time the news about the target letter was breaking yesterday, Michigan AG Dana Nessel (D) indicted all 16 fake Michigan electors—the folks who tried to supplant the legal, duly elected Joe Biden electors in 2020. Each of the 16 people now faces eight criminal counts, carrying a total maximum penalty of 80 years.

Needless to say, there is much about the fake electors situation that is unknown at this point. Will fake electors in other states get indicted, too? Maybe, but maybe not—the Michiganders took things much further than their counterparts in most of the other swing-y states, going so far as to sign phony paperwork. Was Jack Smith involved in going after the fake electors? Again, maybe, maybe not. It's known that he or members of his team recently interviewed state secretaries of state in not only Michigan, but also New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia.

The one thing we can say is this: These fake electors are looking at spending most or all of the rest of their lives in prison (especially since some of them are well into their senior years). And while some of them might be True Believers who are willing to sacrifice everything for The Donald, it's not likely that all of them are. So, we would guess there are now some potential canaries who can be persuaded to sing in order to save their own necks. (Z)

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